Quarantine began for much of America in March 2020 (although it feels like lockdown started a century ago), and it didn’t take long into isolation for some romance authors to publish stories exploring the unique circumstances of our current era. Quarantine romance is spreading—and whether you crave clean romance or erotica, you can now find an array of coronavirus-related HEAs to suit your tastes.
As A Love So True contributor Kayleigh Donaldson wrote for Pajiba in early May, the ‘quarantine romance’ search term on Amazon yields an array of self-published romances that marry pre-existing subgenres like billionaire romance, single-dad romance, or cowboy romance with the unique circumstances of quarantine.
And quarantine romance, like the virus itself, probably isn't going away anytime soon. Erotic fiction website Literotica has seen such an influx of quarantine-related submissions that they recently hosted a fiction contest called ‘Love the One(s) You’re With,’ featuring stories set against the backdrop of the pandemic.
The Guardian reports that a portion of the winnings for Love the One(s) You’re With will go to charity, and that many of the submissions explored political themes and the need for connection of some kind during this international crisis—even if that connection is only over Zoom.
In case Love the One(s) You're With doesn't totally slake your thirst for timely romance, a new anthology of quarantine romance stories, Love Gone Viral, releases July 15. The authors state that all proceeds will go to World Central Kitchen and Feeding America, and the collection looks at covid from a variety of angles. From comrades uncovering their connection during a mutual aid campaign, to a time-travel tale in which Rosalind alters history to save her wife from the virus, the anthology is truly a product of its time.
Like any romance subgenre, quarantine romance isn’t for everyone. For some in romancelandia, reading stories set in our tumultuous era will only increase anxiety. Others may find it in poor taste.
And as Donaldson pointed out for Pajiba, quarantine romance as a subgenre has the potential to be told through a very privileged gaze. It’s difficult to imagine that anyone who’s had the virus themselves, or lost someone to it, would be titillated by a quarantine romance; and the covid crisis disproportionately impacts people of Color and people from a lower socioeconomic status.
At the same time, some readers might find comfort in stories that validate our very human need for emotional and physical intimacy during this crisis. It can be heartening to read about others finding connection in lockdown, whether it's with an old beau over Zoom or the aggravating roommate they've been trapped with for months.
Regardless, it's likely quarantine romance will be around for some time. Will you be reading?